Sister Pilar Caycho Vela
Daughter of Charity of Saint
Vincent de Paul
“CAVI” Lima - 03–IX-2013
When the Venerable Frederic Ozanam is canonized, it will not
be because he founded the St. Vincent de Paul Society or
because he was a distinguished professor at the Sorbonne in
Paris or because he was an excellent writer … it will be because
he practiced heroic virtue and lived in fidelity to God’s grace
(Catechism of the Catholic Church 828).
The Church declares people saints not because of their success
but because of their holiness. Saints are individuals who took
seriously the twofold commandment of love and practiced it to
an heroic degree. Indeed, holiness is the perfection of charity.
Frederic Ozanam listened to and
adhered to the call to holiness.
He sought holiness as a single
man, then as a married man,
and finally as a father.
Frederic understood that union
with Jesus Christ depended on
our desire and our decision to choose him
at every moment of our existence .
Throughout his life he was a man of exceptional piety!
On August 22, 1997 Frederic Ozanam was beatified by John
Paul II in Paris within the framework of World Youth Day …
the Pope solemnly recognized Frederic’s holiness.
“he loved everyone who was deprived… he had the
same intuition as Saint Vincent: Let us love God,
brothers and sisters, let us love God”.
“The saints show us
the way to attain
show us how to be
Benedict XVI: to young people in Colonia:
“The person that we present
today lived to the age of 40: he
was a young man who lived a
holy life as a son, a university
student, a professor, a
philosopher, a learned man, a
husband and a father. He was a
man who developed an
extraordinary spiritual life and
elevated family and conjugal
love to a very high degree”.
A man who
faith with great
He placed his whole life at
the service of the faith,
charity, the Church, the
poor, science and
a man fully human
and fully Christian
a man with an ideal
nourished by the gospel.
His friends and the persons
closest to him were convinced
that he was extraordinary, a
Thirty years after the death of
Ozanam, Paul Lamanche
“I have not known anyone who had
a soul like his except our Lord, Jesus
In the homily during the beatification John Paul II stated:
“Faithful to this commandment of the Lord, Frédéric Ozanam
believed in love, the love of God for every individual. He felt
himself called to love, giving the example of a great love for
God and others.
He went to all those who needed to
be loved more than others, those to
whom the love of God could not be
revealed effectively except through
the love of another person.
There Ozanam discovered his
vocation, the path to which
Christ called him. He found his
road to sanctity. And he
followed it with determination.
There Ozanam discovered his vocation, the path to which Christ called him. He found his road to sanctity. And he followed it with determination.
2.- Family heritage
The foundations of
Ozanam’s holiness were
established in the midst of
his family. He was a
member of a very Christian
family where he received
the gift of faith.
His parents taught him to love God and to serve
the poor. He himself affirmed that he received his
Christian formation from his mother.
Frederic and his siblings learned
about God’s greatness and
gentleness, about prayer and the
practice of virtue from their
mother … every evening the family
His mother was a devout Christian whose faith
was tried by misfortune. Together with her
husband, she engaged in a life of work that was
sanctified by prayer and the practice of virtue.
One of the highlights that
marked his life was the
celebration of his first
Communion on May 11, 1826
when he was thirteen.
The resolutions that he made on
that day helped him to change.
He became more industrious
and obedient, even though he
said: I became more scrupulous.
At the age of 15 he entered his first existential crisis. It was the
stage in which he abandoned his childhood beliefs in order to
embrace the faith of an adult.
This produced a turn-around that sent his human existence whirling. But
with some suffering he confronted this situation with confidence. He
wrote: my confessor tells me that this form of temptation occurs
frequently in a person of my age”. As Frederic passed through this “dark
night” he remained bound to his faith and continued to develop a
a.-His first doubts with regard to his faith
At the age of 17 and with the help of Fr. Noirot,
he resolved his crisis of faith and made a vow to
God to consecrate his life to the DEFENSE OF
THE TRUTH which brought him peace.
Salvation and stability came to
him through Father Noirot, his
spiritual director who gave order
and clarity to his ideas until he
achieved a state of serenity.
At the birth of his daughter
on July 24, 1845 he lived
hours of fullness and in an
explosion of joy he said:
On June 23, 1841, he was married to Amelie Soulacroix by his
brother, Fr. Alphonse Ozanam, in the Church of St. Nizier, in
b.-Family life: a blessing from God
“….I am a father, a guardian, a trustee of an immortal
creature … who has a soul made for God and for eternity!”
In the autumn of 1843 he entered into a
significant stage of his spiritual development, one
of conversion and purification.
“I have not used
well your favors or
instead of loving
in my life the One
who gave you to
me I have sought
only myself in
He wanted to
help his wife
from Paris he
wrote her a
c.-The practice of piety and his
life of prayer
From his wife we have the following
“Despite his grave illness he never put aside his
time of prayer. I have never seen him go to bed
at night or rise in the morning without making
the sign of the cross. In the morning he reads
the Bible in Greek and meditates for half an
…During the last days of his life he
attended Mass on a daily basis and found
support and consolation in doing this.
Before beginning his classes he asked God
for the grace to do nothing to obtain
applause but to do everything for the glory
of God and the service of the truth.”
In October, 1853, a friend, A Dufieux, said of him:
“How mature for heaven…
I knew him from the time
he was 19… I saw him
practice so many virtues!
How good and patient and
pleasing to everyone! The
glory of God and
dedication to his friends
were his primary
3. His love for the Catholic Church
Frederic could be characterized by his search for the truth. In
many of his writings and discourses we see that he was very
concerned about the Catholic Church and in the final moments
of his life he stated:
“I commit my soul to Jesus Christ, my Savior, frightened at my
sins but trusting in his infinite mercy …I die in the Holy, Catholic,
Apostolic, and Roman Church. I have known the difficulties of
belief of the present age, but my whole life has convinced me
that there is neither rest for the mind nor peace for the heart
save in the Church and in obedience to her authority”.
Frederic Ozanam came to the realization that he was the Church and that
he had an active role to play...he loved the Church and served the Church.
His love for the Church led him to become an apologist.
Christianity influenced his whole life and he placed his
intelligence at the service of his faith. Christian truths
were the source and the object of all his writings.
“Neither in France nor during our era has anyone loved the
Church as Frederic did ” (Larcordaire, letter from Sorèze, April 1855).
……20 years have passed since my crisis and as I grow in
years, that faith has been better realized and has
become proportionately dearer to me. I have found its
worth in great sorrows and in times of public danger … it
is full time to write and keep my eighteen year old
promise to God
It was Frederic’s faith that
led him to act as a
defender of the Church
and he gave witness to his
faith through service.
4.- The poor, the sacrament and the face of
Christ For Ozanam the poor are the place of encounter …
the poor were his gospel and the good news. He believed in an
incarnate God who transformed and freed people.
Frederic’s love of Jesus
impelled him to serve:
“whatever you did for
one of these least
brothers or sisters of
mine, you did for me…”
He considered this as a sacred duty and like the apostle John
he believed: “Those who do not love a brother or sister whom
they have seen cannot love God whom they have not seen?”
(1 John 4:20)
. When Frederic was twenty years old he found himself in a
different geographical location, but his love for the poor was
expressed in organized assistance, in personal and charitable
service toward those in need.
His action was framed with a Christocentric gospel foundation
and was done in imitation of Saint Vincent
“Love your neighbor as yourself”(Mt 22:39) and
“whatever you did for one of these least brothers or
sisters of mine you did for me” (Mt 25:40).
Filled with love Frederic considered it his sacred duty to love
his neighbor in whom he saw God. In one of his discourses he
“What can we do in order to be
true Catholics, but consecrate
ourselves to that which is most
pleasing to God? Let us assist the
poor in the same way as Jesus
and let us place our faith under
the protective wings of charity”.
In this Frederic demonstrated that the followers of Jesus must
opt for him through their relation with the disinherited, not
because of their qualities but simply because they are filled
with love and cannot do anything else but love.
The activity of Frederic Ozanam, his charity toward the
poor, was indeed an expression of the theological virtue of
charity. His supernatural love of the neighbor was an
expression of his love of God.
Ozanam wanted to give of
himself and through this total
donation encountered the
image of Christ in the poor.
He became present to the poor
through personal, direct and
practical contact, uniting spiritual
and material charity.
When he spoke about dealing with the poor he continually insisted on
personal contact, visits to their homes, dialogue and conversations,
becoming aware of their problems and participating in their sorrows and
In 1836 Frederic wrote a letter to his friends and spoke
about seeing God in the poor:
If we do not know how to love God as the saints loved
him, that should be without a doubt a reproach to us …
for it seems necessary to see in order to love and we see
God only with the eyes of faith … we see the poor with
our human eyes; they are there before us and we can put
our fingers and hands on their wounds and the scars of
the crown of thorns are visible on their foreheads … they
are our masters and we are their servants. They are the
sacred images of God whom we do not see and not
knowing how to love God we love Him in the person of
The charity of Frederic was in accord with the gospel maxim,
“do not let your left hand know what your right hand is
doing”. He made clear the difference between charity and
Charity must never look behind itself, but always ahead,
because the number of its past benefits is always very
small, and the present and future misery it comforts is
From Paris he wrote:
From the very first meetings of the
Conferences he made it very clear
how this love should be practiced:
Like a good disciple of St. Vincent, the charity that
filled Frederic and led him to act was something
“If you want to be useful to the poor don’t
allow your charity to become a beneficent
work rather allow it to become one of
Christian moralization … sanctify yourselves
through contemplation of the suffering Jesus
in the person of the poor”.
One of the signs of Frederic’s desire to grow in the
spiritual life was the fact that he had a spiritual director.
Fr. Marduel was a very popular spiritual director and he
counseled people from every social class … he was the
ideal director for Frederic.
His understanding of Jesus led him to total
surrender, absolute trust and profound love.
He handed over his life to the Lord.
Frederic told his mother that Fr. Marduel was the
only intimate spiritual advisor that I have, the only
one who, in kindness and wisdom, can take the
place of father and mother.” (Baunard, p. 40).
John Paul II in his
homily at the
Faced with all the
forms of poverty
which overwhelm so
many men and
women, charity is a
prophetic sign of the
commitment of the
Christian in the
following of Christ..
It is necessary that all these young people …
understand that, if they want to be authentic
Christians, they must take the same road. May they
open wider the eyes of the spirit to the needs of so
many people today.
May Christ call them,
each one by name, so
that each one may say:
This is my path!
Blessed John Paul
Frederic was a harsh judge of
himself. The world thought
him great; he thought himself
unworthy. He believed he
owed his position to hard
work and the grace of God.
5.- Humility of Frederic
In imitation of his patron, St. Vincent, Frederic was profoundly
humble. He viewed humility as the distinctive virtue of every
Vincentian and of the Conferences of St. Vincent, in general.
Even though Frederic was severe toward himself, he was
kind toward his neighbor. His heart was tender and filled
with compassion toward the poor and the abandoned
children of God. (cf. Baunard, P-343)
When he established the Conferences, he told his companion,
Le Taìllandier, “We must do what is most agreeable to God.
Therefore, we must do what Our Lord Jesus Christ did when he
preached the gospel.” “The blessing of the poor is the blessing
of God”. (Baunard p. 65).
To what degree must we love Jesus Christ in the
person of the poor? Frederic says: “even to
martyrdom”. “The world has grown cold; it is for
us Catholics to rekindle the vital fire that has been
These words of Frederic remind us of Vincent’s
words: Our vocation is to set the hearts of people
afire, to do what the Son of God did when he came
to set fire to the earth in order that it might burn
with his love.
Frederic states: “It is for us to
inaugurate the era of martyrs, for
it is a martyrdom possible to
every Christian. To give one’s life
for God and for one’s brothers, to
give one’s life in sacrifice, is to be
“It is indifferent whether the sacrifice be consummated at
one moment, or whether slowly consuming, it fills the altar
night and day with perfume. To be a martyr is to give back
to heaven all that one has received: wealth, life, our whole
soul. It is in our power to make this offering, this sacrifice. It
is in our power to select the altar at which we shall dedicate
it.“ (Baunard, P-97).
lived his faith. His
life was that of a
martyr – slowly
He made the
sacrifice and chose
“Let us help each other,
dear friend, with advice
and example. Let us strive
for confidence in grace
equal to our defiance of
Let us make ourselves strong, for the malady of the age is
weakness… let us consider that we have lived probably more
than a third of our existence by the benefit of others, and must
live the remainder for the good of others. Let us do such good
as is offered without ever drawing back through false
humility.” (to François Lallier, Oct. 5, 1837).
Suffering was part of his sacrificial offering to God. His
fragile health was a daily cross.
During his final years he experienced intense pain which
he was able to accept with love.
One of the characteristics of
Frederic’s spirituality was his faith
and his trust in Divine Providence.
He saw God’s plan
at work in
everything and he
trusted that God
would provide for
all creation … he
believed that God
acted in his life
and in the life of
Frederic wrote to Emmanuel Bailly, the first president of the
“Beyond doubt Providence does not need us for the execution
of its merciful designs, but we, we need it and it promises us
assistance only on the condition of our efforts … carry on the
work begun and work for its propagation and consolidation.”
(Letter # 135, Oct. 22, 1836).
One year later he wrote:
“Our little Society of St. Vincent de
Paul has grown large enough to be
considered a providential fact”
(to Francois Lallier, Oct- 5, 1837).
“My future I leave in
the hands of
Providence. I shall
whatever place he will
be pleased to assign
me, however lowly it
may be. It will always
be noble if it be filled
(Baunard, p. 89-90).
Later he wrote:
“Three years ago when my success as a
professor was uncertain, I did not doubt or
listen to the promptings of self-interest: I only
sought knowledge. I believe it was God who
inspired me and made me act with a trust
that is foreign to my weak spirit. It was
providence that put you in my path and that
enabled me to offer to share my poor life
with you, a life sanctified and ennobled by
the cultivation of everything that is beautiful.
Through Providence I have been able to offer
you my heart which belongs to no one but
Frederic wrote the following beautiful and inspired
thoughts about Providence in his marriage…
7.-Frederic had a great devotion
It was his idea to place the Conferences (soon
after their establishment) under the patronage
of the Blessed Virgin and he also decided
to celebrate the feast of the Immaculate
He added the “Hail Mary” to the prayers
that were recited at their weekly meeting.
He considered the Sanctuary of Our Lady of
Fourvière as a special place and it was there
at the foot of the altar that he decided to offer
himself to God.
We could not talk about the life and work of
Frederic Ozanam without mentioning Sister
Rosalie Rendu who ministered to the poor in the
Mouffetard district of Paris.
8.- Frederic Ozanam and Sister Rosalie Rendu
meeting of these
two individuals is
most significant for
the development of
movements in the
She was tireless in her search for solutions
to the many problems of misery. She was
engaged in an on-going effort in which the
hours and the ministerial tasks seemed to
In 1833, Frederic and some other young men had the
idea to establish the Conferences and they went to Sister
Rosalie’s house on rue L’Epée de Bois and asked her for
advice and guidance in order to be messengers of charity.
They were able to rely on the help of this tireless
Daughter of Charity who was known for her charitable
Sister Rosalie enabled them to encounter situations of
poverty that were so prevalent in Paris during the XIX
century. She advised and encouraged the members of the
Conference in their growth. As a result of her experience
she was able to orient the apostolate of this group.
She rejoiced when she saw the fires of charity growing
What better conclusion to this simple
presentation of Frederic’s spiritual
journey than to meditate on his departure
from life, his final act of faith, hope and
charity that led him to the eternal light!
9.- Frederic’s birth in heaven
His final years were days of physical and moral
suffering. This was the time for total surrender, the
sacrifice of his great work and the separation from
everyone and everything that he loved.
On September 8, 1853, after a prolonged illness,
Frederic died in Marseilles.
He died very young, but 150 years later his social
teaching and his evangelical witness remain
As the time approached to abandon his house, Frederic again
lifted up his voice in a profound and heart-felt prayer:
“My God, I give you thanks for the afflictions and sufferings
which you have sent me in this house; accept them in expiation
of my sins. Then turning to his wife: I want you also to praise
and bless God for our sufferings. Then taking her in his arms
he said: I bless Him for all the consolation which you have
• Frederic’s spirituality is attractive to humankind.
• His spirituality is the fulfillment of the twofold
command of Jesus: love God and love the
neighbor as self.
• Frederic, like his patron Vincent de Paul,
combined the two commandments into one. Men
and women, then, should imitate Jesus (who is
love incarnate) and they should serve their
sisters and brothers.
• Frederic adhered to the famous
principle of St. Vincent: “Let us love
God, let us love God, but let it be
with the strength of our arms and the
sweat of our brows” (CCD:XI:32).
• Frederic’s dream was to be an
apostle and a martyr. In a certain
sense during his short life he
accomplished his dream of loving
service on behalf of humankind
(even though his humility would
never allow him to admit this).
• Frederic was an apostle who was
sent to alleviate material and
His life can be summarized in three words:
Three Christian concepts that Frederic knew how to
live and how to communicate to others.
“The connection with
the Vincentians was
close from the
beginning of the
Society, since it was a
Daughter of Charity,
Sr. Rosalie Rendu, who
guided the young
Frédéric Ozanam and
his companions to the
Homily: Mass of Beatification
April 23, 2013: bicentenary of his birth
"We should kneel at the feet
of the poor and, with the
Apostle, say to them: "You
are our masters, we shall be
your servants; you are the
visible image of God whom
we do not see, but whom
we love in loving you."
1.-Holiness in Frederic Ozanam Author: María
Teresa Candelas, H.C. • English translation of the Spanish
edition is found in the Vincentian encyclopedia
2.- Ozanam y su Obra Author: Fr. Luis Emilio
3.- Federico Ozanam: su piedad y devoción.
Taken from the website: Somos Vicencianos.